Wales Coast Path: World's only entire coastal path celebrates 10th anniversary

The Wales Coast Path, the only continuous way marked path along an entire country's coastline anywhere in the world, celebrates the tenth anniversary of its opening on Thursday.

Officially opened on May 5, 2012, the 870 mile path runs along Wales' coastline from Chepstow in the south to the English border near Chester in the north.

The path has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world over the last decade.

In that time, it has been enjoyed by those out and about for a leisurely morning stroll to an intrepid few who have walked every mile, and everybody in between.

Swapping boots for running shoes

Arry Cain ran the entire coast path in 2012

The first person to complete the entire journey was Arry Cain. However, for Arry, it was running shoes instead of walking boots, as she ran the entire 870 miles, plus the 170 mile Offa's Dyke Path.

Revisiting the path, Arry told ITV Cymru Wales that the experience shaped her life, but as is the ever changing nature of the coastline, ten years has already changed the path.

One section of the path that Arry was photographed on on her run has completely changed after a section of the limestone cliff collapsed.

"It's really strange [being back], but it is really lovely," she said.

"My favourite photo from the entire run was taken on that cliff. I look back at it and now, I see it and it sort of looks the same but different."

Arry also had to overcome stereotypes and misogyny during her challenge.

"I did get a lot of comments about how I didn't look like a runner, and I'm not going to lie, it did hurt a lot at the time," she continued.

"But, now, I look back and think, I did it, whereas you are sat on your sofa."

'You learn what you are capable of'

Zoe Wathen was the first woman to walk the entire path

Following in Arry's footsteps just a couple of months later was the first woman to walk the entire path, Zoe Wathan.

Meeting Arry on the coast path in the Vale of Glamorgan, Zoe said she never truly got used to the pain in her feet.

"I don't know if used to it is the right word, but I did learn to deal with it.

"This is really special for me. Coming back to the coast is always significant and very special.

"There is pain involved, but there is a greater sense of satisfaction. You learn what you are capable of and you learn how to deal with other things in your life that test you.

"For me, doing a path like this is as much about the people as it is about the place. That was something that really stuck with me, the people."

The Wales Coast Path in numbers

'I am so proud to be working on it'

As important as the people who raise the profile of the path are those who work tirelessly to maintain it as it winds its way along some of the most varied terrain in the UK.

Co-managed by Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and private landowners, a team of path officers work on the ground all year round.

Tricia Cottnam looks after South Wales section of the path, and has been involved with it since 2007.

"It has been a great achievement, 10 years of the coast path. I am so proud to be working on it and it is a national treasure for Wales.

"When we come to maintaining the path, we always try to make improvements like resurfacing.

"We are working on making it more accessible for more people. We will replace step over stiles for gates or gaps.

"We do have to always consider that we are part of the coastline and there are situations where the coastline is being eroded so we do have to move it a little inland to be safer for people."

As the coast path and all those who have worked to make it a success celebrate its first decade, attention will also turn to ensuring it continues to be a success heading into its next decade.

Anybody who wants to walk on the path can find a number of resources, from maps to distance tables, on the Wales Coast Path website.